Customer Stupidity, Lawsuits and iPods

CNN reports that a man in California is putting together a lawsuit against Apple. The lawsuit is claiming that Apple’s iPods are capable of causing hearing loss to those that use it.

This is yet another example of human stupidity asking for protection against itself. There was a time when something called common sense prevailed. A time when most people would have laughed at this guy and said, ˜that’s what you get for turning up the volume so high”.  But these days, a lack of intelligence or a complete absence of common sense can earn you special privileges – like doing something very stupid and getting someone else to foot the bill for the consequences.

Increasingly, I am noticing a worrisome trend in our culture and society. We are continuously protecting people from making less than intelligent decisions and passing the cost of those bad decisions on those who should not be bearing it.

A few years ago, I remember a teenager made a killing after he talked up a stock in an internet chat room. The federal government stepped in later, after those poor little investors complained, and prosecuted the teenager. When I heard that story, I was appalled! I was appalled that the government was actually stepping in to make the teenager return the money!

I more than agree that it was wrong what the teenager did, but that does not give a group of investors a free pass into stupidland for a day to buy stocks that they probably did no due diligence on and consequently lost their shirts. That teenager should have been allowed to keep the money and those investors should have bucked up to a stupid decision and walked away from the experience saying, I’ll never do that again!”  Instead stupidity prevailed.

Here is the problem I have with this trend, if we continue to protect people from making very poor decisions then they will only make increasingly more poor decisions. When you remove the cost of making a bad decision, you take away the “ouch” effect. I see it everyday now, people making bad decisions because they do not actually feel the consequences.

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